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Huff returns, Furman in playoff quarterfinals

Courtesy of Furman Athletics
Posted 12/31/69

GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Furman University running back Dominic Roberto scored two touchdowns and Furman rode its stout defense to a 26-7 win over Chattanooga in FCS second round playoff action Saturday …

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Huff returns, Furman in playoff quarterfinals


Posted


GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Furman University running back Dominic Roberto scored two touchdowns and Furman rode its stout defense to a 26-7 win over Chattanooga in FCS second round playoff action Saturday afternoon at Paladin Stadium.

"I told the guys before the game that whichever team ran the ball best would probably win," said Furman coach Clay Hendrix. "Having Tyler (Huff) back after missing him for a month made a difference. He might be a little sore tomorrow."

The victory advances No. 7 Furman (10-2) into the playoff quarterfinal round to face No. 2 Montana (11-1), a 49-19 winner against Delaware. Montana's lone loss was September 23, a 28-14 loss to Northern Arizona (5-6).

Furman's advancing to the quarterfinals will mark the Paladins' first quarterfinal round playoff appearance since 2005 and ninth overall appearance in the playoff final eight. The game will be televised on ESPN2 at 9 p.m. on Fri., Dec. 8.

On the defensive side, former Fleming Island linebacker Alex Maier intercepted a Chattanooga pass in the fourth quarter with a 12 yard return to the UTC sevent yard line that set up a 20 yard field goal for the final score of the contest. Maier was also in on three tackles.

Roberto's one-yard touchdown plunge early in the second quarter tied the game at 7-7, and his two-yard scoring run following a 29-yard Travis Blackshear third quarter interception return to the UTC 2 gave Furman a 17-7 advantage.

Chattanooga (8-5), which grabbed a 7-0 lead with an 11-play, 81-yard drive on its first possession of the game, struggled against Furman's defense the rest of the way, finishing the contest with only 200 total yards.

The Paladins registered 12 of their 26 points on four Ian Williams field goals covering 44, 31, 37, and 20 yards.

Furman quarterback Tyler Huff, a Ridgeview High graduate, who sustained a shoulder injury in the second quarter of the Paladins' 17-14 road win over Chattanooga on Nov. 4 and missed Furman's final two regular season games, returned to action to complete 18-of-29 passes for 192 yards, while also rushing seven times for 32 yards. Huff was intercepted on his first series, but regrouped and engineered the Furman run game.

"Bad decision, bad throw, but the guys rallied around me, told me they would get it back," said Huff. "We are into the quarterfinals. We're excited."

Furman improved to 19-3 overall, 18-1 versus the FCS, and 14-0 against Southern Conference foes in games started by Huff, the league's offensive player of the year.

Furman's balanced, 383-yard attack featured 191 rushing yards and 192 yards through the air. Grant Robinson, seeing his first action since suffering an injury versus South Carolina on Sept. 9, ran 13 times for 62 yards, and Roberto, who sat out the regular season finale versus Wofford, added 51 yards on 15 carries.

The Paladins took the lead for good just before the end of the first half, covering 44 yards in eight plays to set up Williams' first field goal of the contest, from 44 yards with 25 seconds to go for a 10-7 advantage.

Blackshear's fourth interception of the season — and 12th of his career — on a pass by UTC quarterback Luke Schomburg set up Roberto's second score of the contest and 29th rushing tally of his career.